Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: metraRI, JamesT4

  by F40CFan
Its been a long time since I rode on the Rock Island. I seem to remeber them running left-handed like the NorthWestern, is that true? If so, is it because the NorthWestern ran the Rock for a while after the bankrupcy?

  by metraRI
RI runs both left and right handed. All branch line trains run right handed. Mainline trains differ, pending the time of day. Trains usually run right handed until about 2PM where the transition is made to running left handed. The only reason I see this happening is because of long platforms only being on track 1. Majority of outbound weekend trains also run left handed between Blue Island and Joliet. As Metra renovates stations, it appears platform lenghts on track 2 are being extended. Midlothian, Oak Forest, and Tinley Park have equal length platforms.
Last edited by metraRI on Tue Feb 28, 2006 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by F40CFan
Interesting, thanks.

  by spRocket
One other thing that I noted, back when I commuted via the Rock, was that the Gresham - LaSalle St. portion of the run almost always ran left-handed, even after the signals were modernized.

  by doepack
And speaking of Rock Island questions, here's another one: Trains 615, 617, and 619 are outbound PM rush hour trains on the Beverly branch that all layup at Blue Island yard after finishing their run. But is it necessary for all three trains to serve Blue Island? Couldn't one or two of them go straight to the yard after Prairie St? Most passengers going to Blue Island from downtown in the evening usually ride one of the main line trains anyway, and while there may be passengers along the Beverly branch going to Blue Island, I don't think the demand is that great; indeed, the Blue Island depot isn't exactly overflowing with passengers getting off the locals. Besides, if even one train didn't run through to Blue Island that would mean two fewer moves tying up Vermont St., which would allow traffic to flow a little better, especially during rush hours. Just thinking out loud...

  by metraRI
It probably isn't necessary for those 3 trains to all stop at Vermont Street. I'm not exactly sure how many people actually get off at Vermont on those trains. The other two sets that layover in Blue Island are 303 and 619. RI's schedule is in need of a revision.

When the current 1999 schedule was released, the shortest off-peak trains ran with 3/4 cars, which are now 5/6. The shortest rush trains were 7/8, now are 8/9. 6 of the 8 sets laying over in Joliet are now 9 cars.

Recently I have noticed some mid-day sets have changed assignments. 513 ran with a 7 car Blue Island train in the past, is now a 6 car Blue Island set. 515 was a 6 car Blue Island set, it is now a 5 car set cut from a 9 car Joliet set.

  by doepack
I don't know if this has ever been kicked around, but another way to streamline service on RI is to add an off peak element to the rush hour practice of keeping the Blue Island local service via Beverly seperate from the Joliet service via the main line. It could be done with the existing equipment, actually, only one more set would have to be added to the midday runs (3 for Joliet, 2 for BI under the new arrangement vs. the current 4 midday sets), and due to the greatly improved turnaround times, it would enable the Joliet equipment to make at least 2 round trips. An example of a revised schedule would look something like this:

Outbound trains to Joliet departing LSS at the :00 of every hour from 8am-2pm

Outbound trains to BI departing LSS at the :10 of every hour from 8:10am-2:10pm

Outbound trains to Joliet departing at 7, 8, and 9pm
Outbound trains to BI departing 7:10, 8:10, and 9:10pm

From 10pm onward, local service to Joliet via Beverly as is done currently. And if this particular schedule was actually adopted, the inbound schedule could stay pretty much the same in terms of actual station departure times, although a different service alignment would be in effect. This arrangement is most efficient with scheduled headways of an hour or less, which is why it might not work on weekends, since the headways are still 2 hours for the most part. But the biggest benefit would be that at least during the week, most off-peak passengers traveling west of Blue Island would be freed from the slow, agonizing grind of riding the slower local trains, and save up to 15 minutes on their journey in the process.


  by metraRI
Something like that could actually work. I have heard that Metra has tossed around that before, which might have explained the "reduced off-peak" travel times in past budgets. Gresham is also under the process of getting a longer platform, which currently only fits 2/3? cars.

  by Scotty Burkhardt
I think an early afternoon inbound mainline run (say noon time) and a mid afternoon/night time outbound mainline run (say 5:00 and 9:00) would make the Rock a better option for those wanting to take a Family Saturday trip downtown.

That with a 5 dollar pass. I think would be successful.

  by doepack
I think so too. In pre-Metra days, the Rock Island used to run main line express trains on Saturdays, but I remember that very few people rode it. Were it to be resurrected today with the 5 dollar weekend pass, it could indeed be very successful...